Dead by Daylight

It’s summertime!  And what comes to mind more than…yup, uh-huh…graveyards!

It might be the summer doldrums for refined film buffs — and if you consider yourself party to such self-inflicted snobbery, then pray your city has been one of the selected cities for Winter’s Bone’s limited release – it’s killer good and the perfect antithesis to summer movie hell.  Meanwhile every girl and woman you know is lining up for tonight’s midnight showing and about to go crazy over the latest in the Twilight Saga…dun dun dun…Eclipse!  Can you hear Bonnie Tyler now?  Turn around…

So, in the most tenuous of ties to the Total Eclipse of the Box Office, I have decided to post a hodge-podge collection of my daylight graveyard photography.  Some of these photos have been posted before in travel logs and some have never before seen the light of day.  The cemeteries visited span the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York. 

Ga’head, ladies, use your imagination and picture your favorite vampire or werewolf hunk amidst the trees and the stones.  Or better yet…don’t.  Continue reading

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Killing Kin in the Ozarks

Writer/director Debra Granik opens her quietly stunning Winter’s Bone with a shot of a ramshackle little house nestled in the Ozarks that immediately sets the place and the mood.  A strum of a banjo and a woman’s heartbroken and warbling voice accompany the shot, which is followed by scenes of seemingly happy children playing in their yard.  This is their home.  And they don’t want to leave it — no way, no how.

Seventeen year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence, in an assured and definitive performance that will likely haunt what should rightfully be a long and flourishing career) is the accidental matriarch of this clan of kids.  Momma is hopped-up on pills to the point of being mute and helpless.  Meanwhile, the law is about to take this home out from under them if Ree’s deadbeat, crank-cookin’ poppa don’t show up at court for his hearing.  Thus begins Ree’s quest to find daddy come hell or high water.  Continue reading

William Faulkner’s Two Soldiers Shall Not Perish

Making the rounds at the local art-house has been the trailer for the Robert Duvall/Bill Murray starring, character-study, period-piece Get Low — as in, “it’s time for me to –“.

Along with the indie darling Winter’s Bone and Christopher “Fritz” Nolan’s mega-budgeted, high-concept thriller Inception, Get Low ranks as one of the summer’s most anticipated films in my neck of the woods.  Come to find, the writer director Aaron Schneider won an Oscar a few years back for a short film, which just happened to be a an adaptation of what surely is one of my all time favorite short stories…William Faulkner’s “Two Soldiers” – the classic tale of a young boy desperately wanting to join his older brother as he heads off to war.

Low and behold I shot that thing right up to the top of my Netflix queue, and before I knew it was rereading the tale and watching the film.  Continue reading

Splice of American Gothic

Looking at the poster above, you would think the new sci-fi horror flick Splice was some kind of cloning-era mish-mash of Alien and Species.  Based up the trailers, you would think that too.  On the surface all would point to this.  Well, golly, who knew you would be so wrong?

The film opens with a terminally hip power couple turned scientists-du-jour (Oscar winner Adrien Brody and indie film darling Sarah Polley) working for a pharmaceutical company (headed by a cold and demanding French woman played by Simona Maicanescu) splicing away to create a new species that can be used for the harvesting of therapeutic and disease curing genes.  Upon threat of being shut down and not allowed to continue their experiments, Polley’s character has the awful idea to splice in some human DNA on the sly — just to see if they could’ve done it, you know, that old song and dance.  The result — you guessed it — is a fast growing super-freaky French mutant (Delphine Chaneac) with wings and a long-tailed stinger who likes to play Scrabble.

But lurking underneath the guise of this well-worn Frankenstein-style think piece is a depraved little piece of American Gothic hullabaloo complete with hysterical women and family secrets.  Continue reading

Napoleon Complex

Sometimes a film exists beyond words (spoken or not) and there’s no description that can accurately prepare one for what they are about to see.  Some films exist solely on a visual level, are so purely cinematic, that nothing anyone could ever say about them could speak as well as the images from the film themselves.  Hell, but that won’t stop film buffs and writers like myself from giving it the old college try. 

Triptych on this.

Recently, I was lucky enough to have someone over there at the incomparable Wonders in the Dark toss me a copy across the pond of the Kevin Brownlow restored version of Abel Gance’s Napoleon.  It included the Thames Television cut of the film (which runs over five hours and is presented mini-series style in three parts) with both the TV tailored single frame version of the Italian set finale and the phantasmagoric tripped-out red-white-and-blue triptych that is unlike anything ever seen before or since.  I’ve been told this is the definitive way to view the film and far superior to the Coppola produced version that came out stateside around the same time in 1980.

If a director were to compose a film today like Abel Gance composed his untethered and monstrous epic Napoleon in 1927, it would be called audaciously experimental.  Continue reading